St. Andrew’s College end of year report

St. Andrew’s College report, December 2007
St Andrews end of year service
School finished at the end of November as exams finished and reports were given out. The staff carried on coming to school until December 12th when we finished with a big staff lunch in the school hall. There were well over 100 people there. The office staff finished on Wednesday this last week and the workmen all have staggered holidays so that maintenance work can continue throughout the holiday period. Of course there is no-one in school now or for the next few days. We carried on going into school with the office staff but not staying all day. Friday was the first day we didn’t go in and we felt like our holiday was starting.

The school year carried on in the same way it started! It’s been a very difficult year but there have also been times of great blessings…so I supposed we shouldn’t be surprised at the problems!! In August we had two weeks in which Linn and the two of us managed to teach all the primary children English…with the help of lots of classroom assistants. At the same time Mags taught her 9th grade and Gwen took on the infant class. We had a good time doing a project in those two weeks and the kids seemed happy enough. Then Naomi arrived and took Babs’ classes and was with us until Babs returned at the end of September. I don’t think she found it easy coming into a new environment with no Spanish and everyone rushed off their feet. Still, she survived and returned to England in October. St Andrew's students
Elaine Black arrived also and settled into her two classes quickly. In October she went to St Andrew’s students and came back feeling ill and was diagnosed with Giardia, a very resistant parasite. She was very ill for a few weeks. I think she thought she’d never recover. A few visits to the hospital and to various doctors finally saw her right but by then the term had ended and she’d missed the final part! It reached the point where her 3rd grade class asked the helper if she felt ok as all their teachers seem to get ill. They haven’t managed a whole year with one English teacher for the past three years due to illness!! We’ve had to promise the parents we’ll put in someone who looks likely to stay the course next year!!

Elva’s absence was obvious during the year with various people trying to cover her work. We have now appointed someone for the job for next year. We interviewed quite a few people but finally chose the maths teacher already in school and then had to appoint a new maths teacher! One of the secretaries in the secondary school stepped off the bus at the end of July and her coat got caught in it and she was dragged along with the bus going over her feet. She was off school for the next three months. Thankfully one of the top traumatologists has a child in school and he managed to operate on Mati’s foot in the state hospital and so it was all done free. That was another job to be covered in the secondary.

The end of year celebrations went very well. St Andrew's infants' playThe infants did a lovely show for their parents and the hall was packed out. The primary act was a little too squashed in the hall with 6 classes and their parents and other family members . It was a Christingle service. Sadly the parents seemed to have come for a show, to watch their children perform, and so it wasn’t quite what it was meant to be . I think a new venue is called for, for next year. The 9th grade service was held in the cathedral and there was a lovely atmosphere there. The 9th grade are a very special class and it was very moving to hear even the big lads giving a testimony as to what God has done in them this year. There weren’t many dry eyes in the building…except for those who didn’t understand the English!! The 6th form had their leaving service in the chapel and each one was prayed for and then given a candle to go out and shine as lights in the world. The next evening was their graduation service which is an official “do” with people from the Ministry of Education there. The top pupils have to give a speech and , again, it was amazing to hear their testimonies as to what God is doing in their lives. Bishop Andres came down from Concepcion and at the end was asked to pray. He said he’d listened to English and understood not a word and so he was going to ask permission to speak in Guarani …. which he did! He then took hold of the school flag and the Paraguayan flag and prayed for the country and the school. The parents gave him a round of applause!

The annexe school was not forgotten in all this. We also went to all their end of year celebrations and enjoyed seeing how much the Lord is blessing the school there. We were even given a meal there. That was one of many we were offered in this time as we also went to parties for our 6th grade and 6th form.

In between all this we had school each day and it was in this time that a number of parents chose to come and share what they thought was wrong with the school! It wasn’t an easy time but we tried to make all feel welcome to come and to be listened to and to give an answer where possible. Some of the problems centred round our lack of English staff and especially a stable English staff. We would ask your prayers for more people to be called to join us who are willing to commit to more than just a few years with us. Other problems are now noted to be worked on for next year. Some families have taken their children out of school. One family went because he said we didn’t offer enough sports. Having also said the English wasn’t too good he then came back to say how he’d been congratulated on his children’s level of English in an American school. It seems you can’t win with some people although we have tried to meet with folks to help where we can.

Christmas seemed to come early to Paraguay and there are now no more Christmas services in the Anglican church this year! We had a big Christmas service in the Cathedral on Sunday night (16th) and 9 lessons and carols on Wednesday in the English church. Both were very well attended. In fact, the service in the cathedral was extra special for us as we saw quite a few of our ex pupils taking part in the service, in the music, reading, sound system and then giving the talk. It was like a dream come true to see our ex pupils so involved. They are the result of Patrick’s work in the Youth Encounters. Since his return Patrick has also led a big assembly once a month for the secondary. They go into the cathedral and it’s quite amazing to see the joy on the pupil’s faces as they join in there.

We are here for Christmas. The main celebration being tonight, Christmas Eve, but we are having a Christmas meal tomorrow with Irish Elaine and her boyfriend who’s here for a visit. On Wednesday we expect Claire to arrive from Concepcion and on Thursday we are off to the beach in Brazil for a week and Claire is coming with us. We hope to come back via Curitiba, a city in Brazil, but so far haven’t been successful in booking a hotel. Our animals are all fine and enjoying having us home a bit more although they don’t tend to understand holidays and still wake us at 6 am for breakfast! Olga will come as usual to look after them whilst we are away.

Thankyou to everyone for all your support and prayers. They really do mean a lot to us. We’d like to be able to thank you all for the Christmas cards too but we haven’t had any post from England for ages!! So, we have no English cards, nor the presents we know our families have posted! The last thing to arrive here was posted on Nov 11th so we are living in hope that our things will arrive soon!!

May the joy of the Lord be yours this Christmas and in the New year.

God Bless, Love from Mags and Gwen

Directions to Jethro Centre

Friday Night Live
Jethro Travel Directions

  • Leave the M1 at junction 10 signposted Craigavon / Lurgan.
  • At the roundabout take the 3rd exit onto the A76 signposted Lurgan.
  • Drive up the Lough Road and over the railway crossing entering Lurgan.
  • Continue through the town, passing Shankill Parish Church on your right.
  • At the 2nd set of major traffic lights which is just past Fulton’s Furniture Store make sure you are in the right-hand lane and veer right.
  • Pass the petrol station on your left.
  • The Jethro Centre is immediately on your left.

Las Lomitas youth meeting

Pray for an Indian young people’s meeting in Las Lomitas in the Argentine Chaco over this weekend. Pray for continuing blessing in the churches of that area and for the ministry of René Pereira to young people. Thank God too that his wife Marina is recovering from the severe pneumonia she suffered 2-3 months ago, and please continue to pray for her.

SAMS General Secretary and Chairman visit South America.

Denis Johnston and Bishop Ken Clarke are visiting South America during the next few weeks.Denis leaves on Friday 26th October for Paraguay where he will meet up with Elaine Hutchinson and Claire Holmes in Asuncion, and also have meetings with Bishop John Ellison and other church leaders and the head of St Andrew’s College where Elaine works. He will be joined by Bishop Ken on 31st October in Paraguay and then on 1st November they fly to Santiago in Chile for SAMS International meetings. Here they will be joined by representatives of all the Dioceses in South America and the leaders of SAMS Great Britain, USA and CANADA. They also hope to meet Gerardo and Suyai Gimpel, Pablo Ochoa and Raquel Greco who all spent time in Ireland in recent years and also Samuel Lago who is due for a year’s placement in 2008. Denis and Bishop Ken return on 8th November.Please pray for good health and safety in travelPray for wisdom and discernment at all the meetingsPray for Bishop John and Judie Ellison who are due to retire after 20 years in Paraguay and for a successor as Bishop of ParaguayPray for the SAMS International meetings at this time of great change in the Anglican Communion and in Mission

Further update for Denis Johnston

Denis was joined by Bishop Ken Clarke last week and they are now in Chile for the SAMS International conference – one of the most important international conferences in recent years. Read more in the Pray section.

Update from Denis Johnston

Denis in ParaguayDenis arrived in Paraguay on Saturday 27th of October. He spent the first weekend visiting the Annex School on its 35th anniversary, seeing the Chacarita where many Annex pupils live, meeting Mission Partners and visiting local churches. This week he will meet with Elaine Hutchinson and Claire Holmes, and spend time with Bishop John and Judy Ellison in their last few weeks before retirement. Later in the week he will be joined by Bishop Clarke before going on to Chile for the SAMS International conference. Read more in the Pray section.

Visitors from South America

VergarasHugo & Techi Vergara visited Northern Ireland this week. They are working with SAMS Ireland on project ‘La Caldera’. This will see the restoration of a church centre near Salta, Northern Argentina by a 2008 BTN team from Down and Dromore Diocese.

RaulRaul Valdiviezo (Cecilia’s dad) was also with us for two weeks. It was a pleasure to welcome Raul to Ireland for his first time. Raul is held in high regard by all our Gap Year volunteers who participate in the Red Box Project as he is the person who does all their washing, amongst serving in numerous other ways!

Update from Elaine

Elaine HutchinsonElaine Hutchinson, the latest SAMS Ireland volunteer writes –

It’s been a cold winter, but now it’s hotting up. It’s 30 degrees Celsius and the others say this is not even hot yet!

School is going really well, I’ve settled in, go to the gym and really enjoy it here. I’ve noticed how friendly everyone is and, even though they work really hard and long hours, they still have time to eat together and invite others for dinner. I’m enjoying inviting friends round for dinner in my wee flat too.

Church is going really well. I’m going to a local Baptist in the morning and the Anglican Youth congregation on Sunday evenings. It has really grown in the last few months. When I first arrived there were only a handful of people, now lots are coming. There were two baptisms on Sunday night which was very exciting. The Alpha Course is really interesting as the answers people give are very different, many still believe in Jesus as Lord, but it’s translating that to their lifestyle that counts.

I’m hoping for a holiday in December to escape to Chile from the heat of Asuncion.

Thanks for all your prayers,


Linn Tedman reports from Paraguay

Linn Tedman reports “In the Chaco there has been no rain for months and people are suffering a lack of water. There have also been fires on a scale never before witnessed in Paraguay. Whole regions of the country have been burned. Thousands of people have been affected and many have lost homes, crops, cattle, forests and livelihoods.

The Church has been supporting the Chaco Anglican communities through the problems of drought. With help from the Fire Brigade water has been sent to fill some wells built by our students. We hope to send more as needs arise. At the moment there is still a small amount of water in some communities. At El Estribo it is very dry. Apparently some of the Indians are lacking in vitamins as their vegetables in their veg patches have died for lack of water. Some Indians are also anaemic.”

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